The Judiciary will host the Third Regional Symposium on Greening the Judiciaries in Africa between April 3 and 5, 2023. The conference is hybrid symposium that incorporates the Chief Justices Forum on Environmental Law Session, Plenary Sessions and the AJENEL General Conference. The first two regional symposia were held in Johannesburg and Mozambique in 2017 and 2018, respectfully.
It brings together more than 26 Chief Justices mostly drawn from African countries as well as judges, judicial officers, judicial educators, heads of judicial education institutions, practitioners and experts from the continent and beyond, to deliberate on Climate Change in Africa.
The conference is themed “Strengthening the Role of Judiciaries in Addressing Climate Change in Africa.
The UNEP 6th Global Environment Outlook identifies climate change as one of the most pressing problems in Africa posing serious health and economic challenges. Addressing it requires concerted efforts by all actors including judiciaries.
Greening the Judiciaries in Africa is an ongoing initiative that focuses on building the capacity of judges in applying and enforcing environmental laws and promoting the rule of law in environment matters.
The conference which will be officially opened on Monday April 3, 2023, by H.E. President William Samoei Ruto and officially closed by H.E. the Deputy President Hon Rigathi Gachagua on April 5, 2023.
This 3rd symposium is anchored on the role of the courts in combating climate change and its impacts in Africa and is intended to provide much needed leadership in terms of policy direction from Chief Justices present on the enhancement of environmental justice, particularly in disputes arising from climate change and its impacts.
Further, it will provide a platform for discussion on the experiences, challenges, and potential solutions in the adjudication of climate change claims amongst judges, practitioners, and experts in this field. It will be an opportunity to reflect on gains made in integrating environmental law and in particular climate change in judicial training amongst leaders of judicial training institutions. The symposium will be looking to sustain the achievements made in previous symposia and agree on a thematic focus for the next biennium.
The Chief Justices Forum on Environmental Law session will interrogate and provide policy and strategic leadership and guidance on how the judiciaries and other key actors should promote climate change related adjudication in Africa focusing on collaboration between the three arms of government. This high-level dialogue is also expected to deliberate on key resource, infrastructural and technological constraints that could hinder effective and just adjudication of climate change claims. The deliberations are aimed at generating possible responses to these constraints including the possibility of developing an Africa wide collaborative mechanism for sharing information and exchanging experiences in the area of climate justice.
The Plenary Sessions will entail moderated panel discussions as well as presentations of relevant conference papers by select experts in the fields of climate change science, policy and law. Being a hybrid symposium, it will incorporate virtual contributions.
The AJENEL General Conference will be held on the third day where new board members will be elected. The final day of the conference will see the host country for the 4th Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa unveiled and the Nairobi Communique ratified.
Some of the topics to be discussed during the symposium are:
- Impacts of Climate Change in Africa: Status and Trends: Issues and Possibilities for Judiciaries in Africa;
- The Role of Judiciaries in Enhancing Climate Justice in Africa;
- Climate Change, Human Rights and Access to Justice: The Role of Judicial Education;
- Emerging Jurisprudence on Climate Change Adjudication: A Global Perspective;
- Gender Perspectives in Climate Change Adjudication
- Interaction between the Judiciary and Stakeholders on Climate Change.
Specific Objectives of the Symposium
- Identify opportunities and measures for promoting climate change related adjudication in in Africa;
- Share experiences, challenges, innovations and prospects in climate change-related adjudication;
- Evaluate progress made in integrating environmental matters in judicial education;
- Provide a basis and progression to build on for the 4th regional symposium.
Expected Outcomes of the Symposium
- A programme on climate change related adjudication for judiciaries in Africa;
- An understanding of emerging trends and innovative approaches to climate change adjudication and commitment to continue upholding the rule of law in climate change matters;
- An evaluation of the progress made in integrating environmental matters in judicial education
Initiatives and discussions around integrating environmental law into judicial education calendars culminated in the 1st First Colloquium on Integrating Environmental Law Training in Judiciaries in Africa. This was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. During the Colloquium, African countries that were present voted to unanimously adopt the 2017 Johannesburg Plan of Action. This also saw the first AJENEL office bearers elected. The current AJENEL Board consists of Chairperson Justice Nambitha Dambuza (South Africa), Justice Dr Paul Kihwelo (Tanzania), Justice Annabel Matalimnja (Malawi), Justice Elisa Boerekamp (Mozambique), Dr Gomolemo Moshoeu (South Africa), Justice Dr Freda Mugambi Githiru (Kenya), Justice Phillipe Rene Nsoa (Cameroun), Ms Imane Elmalki (Morocco), Justice Lucette Tahiana Ramboa (Madagascar), and Judge Antoine Kabore (Burkina Faso), as the Board Members.
The February 2018 Yaoundé Communiqué on Judicial Education in Environmental Law was agreed upon as a strategy to serve the Francophone African countries to mainstream and integrate environmental law into their judicial training institutions.
In August 2018, the 2nd Symposium was held in Maputo, Mozambique and the 2018 Declaration on Greening Judiciaries in Africa was agreed upon. The symposium in Maputo, that brought together Chief Justices from Africa also committed to continue holding biennial regional symposia to promote the protection and management of the environment. In the Maputo Communique, participants resolved to hold the 3rd Regional Symposium in Kenya.
AJENEL is an initiative established in 2017 to enhance judicial scholarship in environmental matters in Africa. The Network is the embodiment of the collective effort by the continent’s judicial institutions to mainstream environmental law under the clarion call ‘Greening the Judiciaries in Africa’.
AJENEL was established to:
- Strengthen awareness among judges and judicial officers on existing environmental challenges and the growing jurisprudence in the field of environmental law.
- Strengthen the capacities of judicial officers in identifying and responding to the main needs of justice seekers on environmental Justice, leading to more responsive institutions.
- Strengthen the capacity of judicial officers to manage environmental litigation.
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